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  CNN    CNN Newsroom    News/Business. Latest on the day's top news stories  
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    December 4, 2013
    10:00 - 11:00am PST  

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>> marcy hines is a producer here. she was in kenya recently and took these pictures. it was taken at what's called my brother's keeper ministry which helps people living with aids and hiv. >> fantastic stuff. showing one of the helpers at the ministry showing off her children to the camera. lovely stuff. >> uh-huh. okay. that's going to do it for us. there were more pictures but another day. >> news room" starts now. that's why. see you tomorrow. see you tomorrow. >> ballpark. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com >> hello, i'm wolf blitzer in washington. we're only one hour away from the release of the 911 calls that marked one of the worst mat shootingses in u.s. history when adown young gunman blasted his way into the sandy hook elementary school in newtown, connecticut and massacred 26 people in cold blood. 20 of them little children. first grade ares.
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the first anniversary of the tragedy is ten days from today. releasing the recordings from that morning of calls to the newtown police department came only after a long and contentious lawsuit by several news organizations including cnn. many people are upset by that decision to release the tapes. they fear the 911 calls will reopen old wounds and trigger relapse in the emotional trauma. deborah feyerick joins us from new york right now. deb, why did the judge order that these calls, the tapes, the audio tapes be made public? >> well, the judge who decided and who upheld a lower court ruling said yes, indeed there was value to releasing the tapes and they should be made public under the freedom of information act. that's why these calls will be released. just to give you a little bit of background, it's about 25 minutes worth of calls, seven phone calls that were made from land lines inside sandy hook elementary school by different people. the cell phone calls are not being released.
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those are we'll in the custody of the connecticut state police. that's a different sort of request to have those released. but today we're expecting to hear about 25 minutes, seven phone calls from inside the school, people who were there and who were calling for help while this rampage was taking place, wolf. >> and the families of the victims, most of them i take it they're not very happy we're going to be reliving this one more time this on the eve of the anniversary. >> and it's always a very difficult decision whether you release this kind of thing, but there was a feeling that in fact, there was some value to releasing this, again, all care is going to be taken to make sure it's done in a way that maintains the dignity of both the families but also the integrity of the information on those tapes. again, it wasn't a decision that was made lightly but it is one that right now will happen within the next hour. wolf? >> we'll go through the tapes and release and air some of them here on cn. n. i know you're going to be working with a team of folks to
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make sure we do it in the appropriate way. thanks very much. at the bottom of the hour, by the way, i'm going to be speaking with a newtown catholic priest on how the town is reacting to all of this. i spoke with him a year ago when i was in newtown. anxious to get his reaction to what's going on a year later. the sandy hook massacre set off a fierce national debate over gun control. for a time, public sentiment leaned in favor of tougher new loss. that support has since tapered off. the country is almost evenly divided on the issue with 49% saying they support stricter loss. compare that with 20 years ago when the brady bill was enacted. back then 70% said they favored tighter gun control. economic inequality between the richest and poorest americans is on president obama's mind today, likely the focus of his state of the union address in january. a little while ago, the president spoke about that, and he had a special message for
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republicans who oppose the affordable care act. >> if you still don't like obama care, and i know you don't, even though it's built on market-based ideas of choice and competition in the private sector, then you should explain how exactly you'd cut costs and cover more people and make insurance more secure. you owe it to the american people to tell us what you are for. not just what you're against. >> our senior white house correspondent jim an costas is joining us from the white house right now. sounds the president was throwing down a little bit of a gauntlet to the republicans. what else did he say? >> he really was, wolf. you know, this was billed as a speech on the economy but as more and more details came out there are a couple of things that would emerge in his speech. he was sort of going back to his base trying to sort of enlivan what has been a dispirited liberal base of the democratic party. sort of disappointed with the way this rollout has occurred
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with the affordable care act. but at the same time, you know, white house officials say there was something substantive going on in this speech and that the president was talking about income inequality and that is something you're going to be hearing this president talk a lot about during the remaining three years he has in office. he's going to be talking about it in the state of the union speech, for example. he ticked off a number of things he would like to see happen over the next several months. one is a hike in the minimum wage. right now it's $725. he would like to see that around $10. he would also like to see extension of unemployment benefits. both those measures republicans are very cool to right now and indicated they're not going to support either one of those things. so perhaps the president also at the same time drawing some battle lines for next year's midterm elections. listen to how the president framed the debate over extending unemployment benefits during his speech. here's what the president had to say. >> christmastime is no time for congress to tell more than one million americans that they have
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lost their unemployment insurance, which is what will happen if congress does not act before they leave on their holiday vacation. >> so sort of painting republicans as ebenezer scrooge there, wolf. then the other thing you heard and you mentioned this as you were tossing it out to me, the president did offer again another stout defense of obama care. he said that republicans owe it to americans to say not just what they're against but what they're for, and on that front, wolf, we should also mention that i an source familiar with enrollment numbers did confirm to cnn within the last couple hours that they enrolled 29,000 people in the first two days since december 1st when the website was supposed to be working for the vast majority of people. 29,000 people. that's more than the number of people that enrolled in october. it's an indication the administration says now that they have the website working at least better, that that enrollment number is starting to accelerate rapidly and they feel like that's going to make up some of the ground they lost during the botched rollout of
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obama care. >> we'll hear more from the president in the coming days. he's on a major pr offensive right now. jim, thanks very much. jim an costas reporting from the white house. coming up later this hour, by the way, the autopsy results on the actor paul walker who died in a car wreck. they are just being released. we'll have a live report. that's coming up. also, a truck is stolen near mexico city, and its cargo has u.s. and international authorities very concerned. we're going to tell you why. that's coming up, as well. [ female announcer ] we give you relief from your cold symptoms. you give them the giggles. tylenol cold® helps relieve your worst cold and flu symptoms. but for everything we do, we know you do so much more. tylenol cold®. diarrhea, gas, bloating? yes! one phillips' colon health probiotic cap each day helps defend against these digestive issues with three strains of good bacteria. live the regular life.
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we're learning new information about the fiery crash that claimed the lives of the actor paul walker and his friend roger rode das.
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autopsy results have just been released. casey wian has been reelding the results. what will have we learned? >> a few things, wolf. first of all, the la county coroner's office saying in fact as reported paul walker was the passenger, his friend roger was in fact the driver. in terms of the cause of death of the two, roger rodas, the cause of death listed as multiple traumatic injuries. paul walker, the combined effects of traumatic injuries and thermal injuries which means that explosion that occurred one minute after the initial impact as was revealed on some of the videotape that's been released was likely part of the cause of paul walker's death, which means that some of the speculation that maybe he lived after that initial impact for a brief period of time possibly could be true. how the injury occurred the coroner listing auto versus fixed object. fairly obvious there. both deaths determined to be
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accidental. no toxicology results released yet. those will take six to eight weeks to be complete according to the coroner. he will release those details when the toxicology results are available, wolf. >> such a sad story. any memorial service plans been made public yet? >> the family has not released any details about any private memorial service, but there is a fan memorial service planned for this coming sunday. 4,000 fans, more than 4,000 fans have said they'll be there on facebook, wolf. >> i'm sure they will. casey, thanks very much. casey wian reporting from los angeles. the engineer at the controls during a deadly train derailment suffered from highway hypnosis. that's how his lawyer is describing it. a union representative says he nodded off. we'll have the latest on the investigation when we come back. before using her new bank of america credit card, which rewards her for responsibly managing
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u.s. and mexican authorities are on alert after a truck carrying dangerous radio active material was stolen in mexico. it happened in the town of ta pa hack conear mexico city. radio active material was being taken to a storage site when stolen. the big concern here that someone could possibly use that radio active material to build what's called a dirty bomb. brian todd has been looking into the story for us. brian, what are u.s. officials saying about this case? >> wolf, the department of homeland security has alerted all border crossings at the southern border and the agencies manning them of this theft. the alert's gone out because of the possibility you just mentioned that someone could use the radio active substance
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inside that truck which is cobalt 60, to make a dirty bomb. first now to the active search however. the mexican officials are looking for the stolen truck and alerted the international atomic be energy agency in geneva which put out an international advisory. u.s. law enforcement officials tell cnn the government has skens cores at border crossings. agents are carrying portable devices which kk scan vehicles. it's not clear that the thieves were after the cobalt 60 inside. they say the truck also carried waste and scrap material which may have been the reason the truck was skarthed but it may have been that the cobalt 60 was inside. this material is used for brain imaging and to treat cancer, wolf. it is highly radio active. >> how difficult would it be to weaponize this material? >> experts are telling us it would be fairly difficult. it's usually in lead casing which it is in this case. it's not easy to remove it from
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that casing. then you would are to attach it to an explosive device with the intent to disperse it. just handling cobalt 60 according to experts outside its casing is extremely dangerous. it's been known to make people very sick quickly and it has killed people just from handling it. >> a worrisome development indeed. brian has more 5:00 p.m. eastern in "the situation room." thanks very much. the engineer in the deadly new york train derailment was nodding off and caught himself too late. that's how a union representative describes what happened. a lawyer for the engineer william rockefeller calls it highway hypnosis. today, train service resumed at the station in the bronx near the accident site and investigators plan to continue interviews with the engineer. those who know him say he's distraught. >> i wish it didn't happen to anybody but i sure as hell don't want it happening. >> sunday's derailment killed four people, injured dozens more. fourth serious accident in seven
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months from the metropolitan transportation authority. a former ntsb director says a gps system that can control trains remotely would improve safety but implementing it won't be easy. >> the u.s. has a very complex system in which you have multiple operators with different equipment running on the same rails. if we're going to having positive train control, the government has to be serious about it. and there's got to be resources applied so that this kind of system can be put in place where it's needed quickly. it's not really -- it's not something that can happen overnight. >> nic robertson is joining us with the latest on the investigation. nick, is the engineer expected potentially to face criminal charges? >> wolf, that's still something that the da is considering at the moment and a lot of attention will focus on the
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definition of this highway hypnosis, being in a daze, nodding off, does this really constitute fall agsleep? was he negligent in falling asleep? certainly his lawyer has said he had a good night's sleep before. he's got a clean track record leading up to this. these will be issues under scrutiny. the potential is because there were fatalities, he could face charges. interestingly in the last couple minutes, we've talked with the engineer's lawyer. he says today the engineer not speaking with the ntsb, not answering more questions on their inquiry. not clear because they haven't asked him, is taking a break. we know he was very emotional yesterday, wolf. >> has he retained an attorney? >> yes, the lawyer, the lawyer representing him at the moment was appointed by his union. the union stepped in when it was apparently on their advice that he took the lawyer, he's allowed one representative in with him when he meets with the ntsb.
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we understand the lawyer has been close to him through this process. >> the head of the federal railroad administration says he has serious concerns about the safety on these new york rail systems. there have been four serious accidents in seven months. what's being done to address those concerns? >> yeah, wolf. the mta is taking a lot of hereto saying it's recommended over the past 20 years for rail authorities like the mta to institute better control of the track. what the mta has said specifically in response to the federal federal rail administration is that they are going to cooperate with the fra, that they put the safety of employees and of passengers first, that they're reviewing their safety, that they were expediting measures to improve it and an they say they've instituted a hot line. they have a hot line system now so that if an employee or anyone
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else witnesses something that could breach safety, that people can call in and know that their call will be confidential. so the mta is responding to the fra to try to say that they are -- that they're working towards improving safety, wolf. >> nick, thank you. nic robertson reporting from the bronx, the scene of that horrible horrible train derailment. the senate majority leader harry reid is one of obama care's biggest supporters but giving some of his staff a pass on the new health care exchanges. that story straight ahead in a live report. [ female announcer ] thanks for financing my first car.
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bom care will be a major issue in next year's elections. it was a subject of heated debate on cnn's "crossfire." heads of the democratic and republican national committee squared off. >> if you're asking me whether or not our candidates are going to proudly run on delivering those things to the american people, absolutely. >> which candidate that's running for u.s. senate is going to run on it. >> supposed to the republicans who almost 508 times have tried
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to fully repeal or modify almost completely the affordable care act and deny people all of those things. >> tell me, which candidate that's running. >> and shut the government down. >> which candidate running for the united states senate, kay hagan, landrieu, mark pryor, begich, tell me which one of these candidates that's running in one of these big senate races is going to run on obama care? who? >> any of our candidates will run on the fact that a young adult can stay on parents insurance. >> insurance companies have already said they're going to provide it. >> strong debate between the two chairs of the political parties here in the united states. don't forget, crossfire airs weeknights 6:30 p.m. eastern only on here on cnn. harry reid is one of the staunchest supporters of obama care. why is he letting some of his staff opt out of buying insurance through the new health
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care exchanges? according to chris frates, reid is the only top congressional leader to grant exceptions to some of his staff. lisa day jordan has been tracking congress's own health care decisions and certainly helped with the story. how is harry reid able to do what he's doing and why is he the only congressional leader that has made this decision? >> he is the only of the top four congressional leaders, the top democrat and republican, both the house and senate to make this exception. why is he able to do it, wolf? well, frankly, it's because of wording in the affordable care act. it's all semantics. look exactly who is required to get on these exchanges. got a graphic here. essentially all members of congress have to go on the exchanges if they want their job-related premium support, the money that comes from the federal government as their employer and also the law says members and congressional staff. it uses just those two words.
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the question is, who are those designated staff members and frankly, wolf, it is up to each member of congress to determine that for themselves. is my member of staff someone who should qualify for this? and what we've seen a patchwork throughout both the house and senate of some members exempting their staff from the exchanges, others not. but harry reid is the only one of the top four leader who's has exempted his own staff. he is able to do this under the law, but it is a question of the wording and the intent. when congress passed the affordable care act, it said members of congress and congressional staff should be going on the exchanges if they want any help with their premium. >> has he issued a statement explaining his decision? >> no, in fact, chris and i both were tag teaming with spokesmen for harry reid, adam yesterday issued no statement except to say they are following the law which that's technically true. harry reid is able to do this
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under the law, but it's a question of was the intent when congress pass a law saying that congressional staff should go on the exchanges, are they following the intent? that's up for debate. they certainly are following the law here, wolf. >> it's only been a little while since chris wrote the story. is it giving ammunition to republicans to further their attack against obama care? as far as the democrats in congress are concerned? >> xwrae, as you say, has just been broken in the last 12, 16 hours. you can bet that republicans will make hay out of this. however, they have to be careful, wolf, because there are some republican who have done the same thing, not top leaders, not speaker boehner himself. but darrell issa is a very high profile republican who i-reported about a month ago has decided to exempt his own staff, both his committee staff and his personal staff from obama care from the he can changes. he says that's because he doesn't want anyone on the exchanges.
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nonetheless, there are republicans like darrell issa and tom coburn who have done the same thing. expect republicans to make hay out of this but carefully. it is a big topic. i ran into freshman representative richard hudson of north carolina. i asked, what are you doing for your own health care? he said all i know is i think i should get a job with harry reid because then i wouldn't have to go on the exchanges, that from a republican. we'll see what happens on that front. thanks very much, lisa, for that. and thanks to chris for breaking that story here on cnn. let's get to other news making headlines right now. new car sales in the united states are on a roll. general motors once on verge of actual collapse said that last month was its best november in six years, up 14% from the year before. chrysler, nissan, ford and toyota all reported strong sales. checking the markets right now, the dow jones industrials trading in negative territory down 117 points right now. oddly enough, it's positive
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economic news that has some investors nervous that the fed will cut back on its stimulus program that might be why the dow jones, the market's going down the last few days. if you're heading to the fast food drive-through, don't be surprised if no one is there to take your order. workers at many fast food chains across the country are being encouraged to walk off the job tomorrow. organizers hope the walkout that began a year ago at one mcdonald's in new york city will spread to 100 cities. workers are seeing a dramatic increase in pay up to $15 an hour. the death of a missouri man who was killed outside arrowhead stadium in kansas city has been ruled a homicide. police say 30-year-old kyle van winkle died during a fight with another person. they say the struggle happened in the parking lot during a game between the chiefs and broncos. three people were taken into custody. the exact cause of van winkle's death is still under investigation. newtown, connecticut, police
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are minutes away from releasing the recordings of the calls that took place. a speak with the minister who is trying to help his town heal from the tragedy. i'll ask him whether releasing the tapes will help or hurt his community. la's known definitely for its traffic, congestion, for the smog. but there are a lot of people that do ride the bus. and now that the buses are running on natural gas, they don't throw out as much pollution into the air. so i feel good. i feel like i'm doing my part to help out the environment.
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america's bracing for what could be an extremely emotional event less than a half an hour or so from now. we expect the police department in newtown, connecticut, to release some of those
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gut-wrenching 911 calls on the morning of the sandy hook elementary school killings. now almost a year later hearing those calls cos cause lots of emotional trauma. for that reason, many people argued against the release of these tapes. clergymen in new two were on the frontline trying to help the community deal with this unspeakable crime. i spoke with two of them almost a year ago when i was in new town just days afterward. >> what will be the central message that you tell your congregants tomorrow morning? >> i will be preaching a message that even in the midst of darkness, there is light. it's tragic that we are in the midst of the season for us as christians, which is christmastime. and advent. and it's a holy time for us. >> the most important thing we can do as a reaction to this is to thrive. in the presence of my enemies.
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the enemy is the horrible event and the banquet is continuing or thriving in life. >> the reverend matthew crebbit is joining us live. i know these are you anf fuawfu times. what's your reaction to the decision to release these 911 audio tapes? >> well, as a pastor, i know that the release of these tapes, the release of information in general that has been happening over the course of the last few weeks is very traumatizing to many in our community. and very difficult. and i also know that information is an important thing to have, but because of the nature of the circumstances of what's happened to us and because of all the attention that that creates a real challenge for us, especially as we near the
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industry. it's just so close. i know for many folks, especially those closest and most affected by the events, this is just a gut-wrenching awful time to have to receive and hear about and try and shelter themselves from the information that's coming out. in the midst of continuing grief and continued -- a continued desire by many of them to trien an find their way, that this is just another challenge and another difficulty and we're doing our best to try to provide comfort and support for people. >> i know many of the families and you're in touch with a lot of them consoling them even now as we approach the first industry, they really want the news media, especially on the first anniversary to stay away from newtown, don't they? >> yeah, i think that you know,
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the experience of all the attention and having the media in town, that in and of itself is a trigger for many folks. i know a number of our families are not sure if they're even going to be in town because of their concerns around all the attention. it really is i an challenge for us because as a community, we want to be able to come together. we want to connect with each other. and the danger in the midst of all this is that people may find themselves feeling more isolated because of just the fear of howe going t dl withheet of a the m tentio in particular. so we're trying to be sensitive to that and the clergy and the interfaith community, we have created a whole variety of services within our individual communities, some jointly shared amongst several of the interfaith partners to try and encourage folks to have opportunities to come together in smaller settings and to be with each other and to recognize that we are mourning still, that we grieve those that we've lost but that we also find support
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and encouragement for our journey ahead. >> we shouldn't forget the 20 young kids, first graders were killed in that shooting. six educators, adults were killed. you're in touch with the families. a year later, how are they doing? >> well, i think you know, i would be reluctant to speak for and declare anyone exactly what exactly is happening for any individual families, but i think what i say about newtown is in fact, i've been recently quoting some lyrics from leonard cohen that there's a crack income everything. but that's how the light gets in. and i think newtown we're cracked. you know? this has affected all of us very deeply and especially our families that lost loved ones. and so we're cracked. but also out of that, those cracks we see light that is both coming inning to people's lives and also being shared by people's lives.
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we think that the story for many of our families as well as many of the citizens can of new town is that we are finding ways to be kind to each other, to encourage each other. finding ways to make a difference out of the circumstances wiljust were beyond imagination for most of us. and i think there's a real power there. but day by day, you know, it's one step at a time. there are going to be continued struggles and certainly as information and attention comes out like today, that's just another event that does cause trauma to people in our community. >> one final question, reverend crebbin. i know you and the reverend were consoling the families as they were just beginning to learn that their kids had been shot, that teachers had been killed. how are you doing? >> well, you know, i'm cracked, too. you know, i'm taking it one day
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at a time. i'm on this journey. i've been fortunate to have wonderful support and encouragement not only within the community of newtown but other folks around. some incredibly powerful partnerships have been formed with pastors from hartford who have experienced trauma and loss and cared for their communities in the midst of violence for many years. and so even out of the dark time of newtown, i too have seen light reflected through others and to through myself. but for me, it's a day by day journey, as well. i just count my blessings for the support and encouragement and love that i've received. i don't think i could be here without all of that. >> reverend matthew kreben of the newtown congregational church, please pass along our deepest condolences. once again, our love to everyone in your wonderful community.
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we're thinking of all of you, especially as we approach this first anniversary. thanks very much. >> thank you, wolf. >> good luck. >> we're going to check back on the story in the next hour after those 911 calls. the audiotapes are released. we'll share some of them with you, our viewers. it's a family feud over same-sex marriagen an i an former vice president dick cheney steps into the fray. hear what he has to stay about the public spat between his two daughters, that's coming up next. she loves a lot of the same things you do.
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you may remember it started when cheney's daughter liz told a fox news host she doesn't support same-sex marriage. liz's sister mary is gay and her wife slammed liz cheney on facebook. sister mary joined in saying liz, this isn't just an issue on which we disagree. you're just wrong. and on the wrong side of history. at a book promotion event, the former haven't responded to this feud. >> we, you know, were surprised when there was an attack launched against liz on facebook. and wished it hadn't happened. it's always been dealt with within the context of the family and frankly, that's our preferences. >> let's bringing in our chief political analyst gloria borger. how striking were these words from the former vice president to you, gloria? >> well, dick cheney is not a
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real emotional guy as you can tell. but you could just watch his sort of pain about this because this is an issue that has been spoken about at great length within their own family and you know, wolf, as well as i do that dick cheney at some personal political peril himself when he was running as vice president said that he believes that gay marriage should be an issue that's left up to the states. he's also said in the past and being very libertarian about it that freedom is something that applies to all people. and it's very clear that he woulderally that this matter both as a parent and as a politician, that he would rather that this matter stay within the family. >> liz cheney is facing some serious problems. she's challenging the incumbent republican senator from wyoming, mike enzi has she has a real uphill battle ahead of her,
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doesn't she? >> she does. there's a real suspicion about liz cheney. i think that the cheney name helps her an awful lot in the state of wyoming but there's a real question, wolf, of whether she's a carpetbagger and whether she's just coming back to the state of wyoming to run. she moved back there two years politically, and holding political office, so folks out west don't much like carpet baggers. i yesterday when bob kerrey ran for senate in nebraska having left the state for ten years. they didn't think so much of him returning to the state, either. that's been a huge problem of hers, and she hasn't gotten the support of sort of the state hierarchy out there, alan simpson, another senator from wyoming, now retired, is supporting mike enzi, not her, and that's sort of blown up in the press for her.
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she's got a lot of problems out there and she's behind in every poll taken. >> sig knltly behind, at least in the polls i have seen from wyoming. gloria, i'll see you later in "the situation room," 5:00 p.m. eastern. in beijing, lots of pomp and ceremony as china's president welcomed the vice president, joe biden. the president called biden an old friend, braised u.s./china relations. biden described the relationship between the two countries as full of promise. their public remarks gave no hint of the tensions right now between the u.s. and china concerning air space over the east china sea. however, senior officials traveling with the vice president say during private talks, biden told the president the u.s. does not recognize china's newly declared air defense zone, and the u.s. has, quote, deep concerns about the situation. just six days, the house goes on vacation. and there's lots of work to do. so why are some members right
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now talking about aliens? we're talking about space aliens. we'll get to the bottom of this, get to the bottom of this when we get back. 1ñp ♪ ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] everyone deserves the gift of all day pain relief.
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is heading out of town for the holidays. some members of the house are now choosing to spend their remaining time raising some
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eyebrows this morning. a house committee on science, space, and technology held a hearing on extra territorial life. the hearing chaired by lamar smith focused on what's being done to find out if aliens exist. but critics say lawmakers should focus on getting things done right here on earth. democrats, i take it, dana, democrats are tahaving some fun with all of this. what's going on? >> of course, they are. it is certainly like shooting fish in a barrel to be talking about the fact that republicans who run the house with just days left and a lot of work still left on the table are talking about whether or not there's life outside of this universe. now, to be fair, it is important for congress to look at science, but big picture, what this does speak to is the tact that this has been a congress that has not gotten a lot done in their various reasons for it. but it's interesting that the house speaker just a couple
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hours ago, went to the house floor, made a speech on this issue, he doesn't do anything like this very often, and talked about the fact that the house has passed. he said, 150 bills that the senate has not touched. listen to what he said. >> these bills would do things like increase the supply of american energy and build the keystone pipeline. roll back red tape and unnecessary regulations, provide more flexibility to working families, reform and improve job training programs, protect americans from cyber attacks, help schools to recruit and keep the best teachers. belay the individual mandate, allow the american people to keep the health care plans that they like, or just scrap the health care law that's wreaking havoc on our economy. >> so, clearly, republicans want to get out there a message about what they have done in order to counter this whole concept of a do-nothing congress. of course, it is important to remind people that republicans
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do only have control over one half of the capital house, the senate is run by democrats, and there sort of is a mixed bag. they, too, feel they have passed bills the house won't take up. immigration reform is one that comes to mind. at the end of the day, this is divided government, and divided government in such tenls times doesn't produce a lot. >> what kind of work exactly have the lawmakers gotten done so far this year? >> right, well, just to sort of give people an idea of what we're talking about, we can put up on the screen how many bills congress actually passed, sent to the president that he signed into law. this year, 56. just by way of context, last year, same balance of power, 193. so a lot more, and you see back in 2011, 90. 56 is by far the low water mark over the past five years or so. what is also important to point
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out, wolf, is that for many lawmakers, especially those who are on the republican side in the house and the senate, they believe that being in congress, legislating, isn't just about passing bills and sending them to the president for his signature. it is about stopping legislation, stopping laws from being passed they think are the wrong thing to do. so that is possibly part of the reason why that number is so low. the big one, though, is of course, just partisan gridlock. >> very quickly, is there going to be a budget deal? patty murray from the senate, paul ryan, this conference, they're supposed to have it done next week. will there be a deal? >> they are supposed to have it done next week. they are working on it. sources from both parties say they hope to have something, but the something may be different than many people are expecting. it will procedure be narrow, very small, not any kind of brand bargain that talked about
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entitlements and the big issues contributing to the debt and deficit. >> we'll see what they can come up with between now and then. that's it for me. i'm be back 5:00 p.m. eastern in "the situation room." "newsroom" continues right now with brooke baldwin. hi, there. i'm brooke baldwin live in new york today. we begin with a story that absolutely broke the nation's heart. i'll never forget it. i was there in newtown. i saw first hand the utter devastation, the anguish upon the faces of those in the community, the first responders, the children because of the shooting at sandy hook elementary school. i talk eed to a first responder trembling with grief. i saw the funeral processions with the tiny white caskets for young first grade victims, and moments ago, we got the 911 calls, these tapes, from that mass shooting in this quaint connecticut town. the 911 calls from inside the school where a an